Patrick Wilson didn’t need any convincing to join The Commuter. Just the presence of Liam Neeson was enough to pique the 44-year-old’s interest. In fact, Wilson is such a fan of the “very tall Irishman” that he believes “Liam Neeson is his own genre” now.
After the success of the “Taken” trilogy, “The A-Team,” and “The Grey,” as well as “Unknown,” Non-Stop,” and “Run All Night,” the trio of which were directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, it is hard to argue with Wilson’s assessment. But it wasn’t just the allure of working alongside Neeson that persuaded Wilson to join “The Commuter.”
“It helped that I really enjoyed the script,” Wilson explained. “And I thought the role was really fun and different, and something that I don’t get to do too often.”
Then there was the fact “The Commuter” was being directed by Serra, especially as his past work with Neeson has created some of the most crowd-pleasing action thrillers of recent years.
“After a conversation with Jauma, our director, who was so easy going and just wants to have a fun experience shooting the film, which we did, I immediately agreed to it.”
“He’s the kind of director that lives in this genre, I guess Liam Neeson is his own genre, but this is a Hitchockian ride that turns into an action thriller. But Jauma is the kind of director that makes it very organic.”
“It doesn’t seem as technical as it could be when you’re shooting an action film. It was an easy yes.”
Wilson clearly enjoyed working alongside Serra, too, as the Spanish filmmaker was never afraid to improvise and adjust a scene in the heat of production, which immediately helped to freshen up the film.
“There are certain types of directors that can look at a script, and let’s say it is an action sequence, which needs to be very technical and broken down. You could just follow the script, and go, ‘He punches with this hand.’ That’s great, as it means that it is serving the script.”
“But, with Jauma, if it doesn’t feel right he’ll just go, ‘Then don’t do it. How about we do it like this? Does this feel better?’ He has the confidence in his technical proficiency to pull it off, and knows that he can roll with any new idea. I think that’s a fun and refreshing attitude, especially in a genre that can be by the numbers.”
For Wilson, though, he primarily loved the opportunity to be in a movie that allowed him “to go for it” while still being real and relatable because it was set on a train.
“If you make it real and relatable early on in the film then you can take the audience anywhere you want. It’s ordinary people in an extraordinary situation and that’s very fun to play. It’s an escape, and, watching it, you want to see if the characters can get out of it, or if they’re caught.”
You can find out if “The Commuter” is cinematic escapism at its very best when it is finally released on January 12.